Stills 02 EP Release
Read about the latest installment of our Stills project, where we compose music inspired by iconic visual art.
‘Stills 02’ – the second instalment in the acclaimed release series by sound design & music production company String and Tins
Four cinematic, orchestral compositions responding to artworks exhibited in London's Tate
Britain gallery by artists John Singer Sargent, Henry Wallis, George Stubbs & Magda Cordell
Dramatic neo-classical arrangements encompassing field recordings, harmonic drones & lush strings – RIYL Alexandre Desplat, Carter Burwell, Hildur Guðnadóttir
The ‘Stills’ project asks composers to create a piece of music in response to a self-selected work of art exhibited in London’s Tate Britain Gallery, presenting each of them with a premise; if each respective artwork represented a still from a scene, what would the score sound like?
With ‘Stills 02’, this innovative project continues as four renowned composer / sound designers respond to the work of four artists, creating unique scores for iconic paintings by the likes of illustrious Edwardian portraitist John Singer Sargent, English early Romantic painter George Stubbs, British Pre-Raphaelite painter Henry Wallis & Hungarian figurative artist Magda Cordell.
Here, visions of en-plein-air impressionism, 18th century lyricism, lavish romanticism and brutalist materiality are interpreted with a vivid sense of individuality. The spatial sound design and liberated experimentation of ‘Stills 01’ - the first instalment in the series - is maintained yet modified by a contemporary cinematic approach, making for a collection of dramatic neo-classical arrangements encompassing field recordings, harmonic drones, lush strings, and minimalist horns. On ‘Stills 02’, composers Mike Bamford, Adam Smyth, Kaspar Broyd & Lawrence Kendrick imagine new worlds for historic art.
1. Mike Bamford - Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
2. Adam Smyth - Horse Frightened By A Lion
3. Kaspar Broyd - Chatterton
4. Lawrence Kendrick - No. 12
EP art by Camille Rousseau. From ‘Watch The Music’, La Collection Dessinée.
Press for ‘Stills 01’:
‘Here’s a unique idea: ask sound designers to look at works of art and imagine them as movie stills. Then ask the composers to score the subsequent scenes. Artists from the String and Tins family selected works from London’s Britain Tate Gallery for the first in a series, and the results are exquisite, opening new modes of viewing, thinking and hearing.’ - A Closer Listen
‘’Stills 01’ is an excellent introduction to a new label, a place where art, inspiration, and individual perception are all able to merge' - Fluid Radio
'The first, beguiling release from new imprint String and Tins Recordings that looks to marry the disciplines of music and fine art...a fascinating and very personal intermedia concept which should prove captivating as it unfolds' - Backseat Mafia
A Guide to ‘Stills 02’
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
Composer: Mike Bamford
Artwork: Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1885–6. John Singer
Sargent. Photo © Tate.
I absolutely love the childhood magic that John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose captures. The music begins with the sounds of a garden at twilight. Field recordings I made of cicadas in France were tuned with thick layers of flute, cello, and other harmonic drones to set the scene. Next the girls are handed their delicate lanterns. They hold them with care, as they could rip or catch fire. A simple piano motif scores their guarded inquisitiveness. As the girls gain confidence, swapping lanterns and moving around the garden, a solo cello, performed by Leo Popplewell, picks up the melody. The music continues to build as the girls’ imagination goes into overdrive. Notes swirl around as they dance through the garden, lifting their lanterns above their heads. As we reach a crescendo, soaring strings take over and the lanterns lift off into the night sky. The girls stand completely still, in wonderment at the rising lights. As the lights fade into the distance, the twilight sounds and piano return to bring us back to reality and the girls find themselves standing alone once more in the garden.
Horse Frightened by a Lion
Composer: Adam Smyth
Artwork: Horse Frightened by a Lion,
George Stubbs. Photo © Tate.
When I looked at Stubb’s painting, I imagined how it feels to be startled and pumped full of adrenaline. How easy it is to become dead aware of your surroundings, forcing you to fight to survive? I was also struck by the way Stubb’s depicts nature's elegance yet cruelty and uncanny ability to be majestic yet brutal at the same time. I wanted the music to reflect this. There’s a real build in tension between these two incredible animals. Using certain bowing and harmonic techniques to really draw on a paradoxical moment of calm uncertainty. Then, with the introduction of brass, the piece explodes into its own epic crescendo and battle. My goal was to try and achieve an ‘oxymoronic’ type of arrangement; something slow yet fast, sad but still a little upbeat. A story of several acts.
Composer: Kaspar Broyd
Artwork: Chatterton, 1856.
Photo © Tate.
The subject of the painting is the 17-year-old English early Romantic poet Thomas Chatterton, shown dead after he poisoned himself with arsenic in 1770. The composition attempts to reflect the melancholy and hubris of Chatterton in equal measure with the tentative fanfare of horns echoing from the artist's garret over the streets and alleys of London. The theme is taken up by the strings as the piece journeys through the late poet’ artistic fervour followed in turn by self-doubt, anguish, and taking of his own life. My hope is that there are emotional triggers in there for everyone who has been touched by either the mindset or the fall-out of the subject matter. Chatterton was once asked by his sister what he would like her to paint for him on a bowl. He replied: "Paint me an angel, with wings, and a trumpet, to trumpet my name over the world.”
Composer: Lawrence Kendrick
No. 12, 1960. Magda Cordell. Photo © Tate.
I’ve always been fascinated with space, scale, and the relativity of significance in our lives. I’ve had my share of existential crises in my life and this painting plays with those concepts and emotions. Cordell’s representation of woman as both embryo and life giver, while also depicting an ambiguous sense of scale, from the microscopic to the galactic - this really resonated with me. Life, birth, regeneration, and scale are the concepts I aimed to explore in this music, while maintaining a sense of loneliness that comes with being a single soul in an infinite universe. This piece progresses from the intimate, drawing on the beauty and loneliness of birth and life on a personal scale, and joining that life on its journey while exploring its cyclical nature and taking it to its inevitable conclusion.
About String and Tins
String and Tins is a sound design and music production studio facility based in Fitzrovia, London. Their team of sound designers are also composers in their own right, enabling them to contribute to all the myriad aspects of their diverse, highly regarded soundtrack work.
About the composers
Mike Bamford is an award-winning sound designer, composer and co-founder of String and Tins. In addition to his work for broadcast, he has released 18 EPs of electronic music under various aliases since 2000. The ‘Stills’ project is Mike’s first foray into contemporary film music, under his own name.
Lawrence Kendrick is an award-winning sound designer, composer and creative director at String and Tins. His background in physics and maths, combined with his musical creativity, bring a unique perspective to his sound work. He is trusted by the world’s biggest brands to deliver sound for Oculus, Mercedes, Amazon, Formula 1 and still finds time to mentor students and work with independent theatres.
Adam Smyth is an award-winning sound designer, composer and creative director at String and Tins. Working his way up, from cutting tape in music studios to producing up-and-coming talent, Adam now leads the team responsible for that Just Eat earworm. Working with Hollywood's biggest talent and crafting music to picture bring Adam huge amounts of joy.
Kaspar Broyd is an accomplished composer and sound designer. A synth and drum machine aficionado, Kaspar is equally happy capturing field recordings in remote locations, as he is crafting tracks in the studio. He recently completed the sound design on Jamie Jones’ excellent Cloud Factory film and is currently focusing on making music under the pseudonym Broka.
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